WBEZ | folk music http://www.wbez.org/tags/folk-music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A Hawk and a Hacksaw gives new sound to 1960s Soviet-era film http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/hawk-and-hacksaw-gives-new-sound-1960s-soviet-era-film-108204 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hawk%20and%20hacksaw.JPG" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s Heather Trost and Jeremy Barnes. The musical duo have brought new sounds to a 1964 Soviet-era film. (Photo courtesy of A Hawk and a Hacksaw)" /><em>Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors</em> is like the film equivalent of a disturbance in the force. Though a viewing is unlikely to cause you physical pain or mental terror, it will seriously mess with many of your ideas about movies.</div><p>On its surface <em>Shadows</em>, a 1964 movie by the Armenian-Georgian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov (also spelled Paradjanov) is a Ukrainian variation on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Instead of Montagues and Capulets, we have Paliychuks and Gutenyuks, or Ivan and Marichka, who meet as children after her father kills his (a rather morbid take on the cinematic &ldquo;meet cute&rdquo;).</p><p>But as their love story unfolds and of course goes awry, the film too unfurls and deepens. It is at once an avant garde film, an ethnographic study &nbsp;(documentary-like in its detail), a meditation on the power of pagan and Christian rituals; and above all, a rhapsodic, and, at times, psychedelic exploration of the natural world.</p><p>Parajanov&rsquo;s camera shots offer a bird&rsquo;s-eye view from the teetering tops of spindly trees or fish-eyed perspectives of characters hurtling down rushing rivers atop enormous, hand-hewn log rafts. In between moments of action come quiet sequences, close-up shots of lichen, moss and wood grain. His film seems literally to be tripping on the magic of Mother Earth.</p><p>Parajanov&rsquo;s exploration of the <a href="http://www.unian.info/news/210786-ukrainian-highlanders-hutsuls-boikos-and-lemkos.html">Hutsul</a> cultural and ethnic identity, who for centuries have lived in the Carpathian mountains, is what makes<em> Shadows </em>a film near and dear to the heart of many Ukrainians. Though the film (rightly) has been hailed as &ldquo;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/shadows-of-our-forgotten-ancestors/Film?oid=1060831">one of the supreme works of the Soviet sound cinema,</a> it was made in the Ukraine and reads as a critique, both of Soviet cinema (whose official guise in 1964 was still largely &ldquo;Soviet realism&rdquo;) and more importantly, of Soviet society and politics, at the very moment a more homogenous and sterile &ldquo;Russian&rdquo; identity was the rule of the land.</p><p>His film was an act of not just personal but political liberty, one he paid for dearly: He was blacklisted after the film came out, other of his films were banned, and he was imprisoned in the 1970s <a href="http://www.parajanov.com/maestro.html">on charges supporters say were trumped up</a>.</p><p>If you&rsquo;ve never seen <em>Shadows</em>, you&rsquo;ll have a rare opportunity to do so Friday night at the Chicago musical space <a href="http://www.constellation-chicago.com/event/273785-hawk-hacksaw-live-film-chicago/">Constellation</a>. What&rsquo;s more, the film will screen with a live music score, thanks to Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost, the musical duo known as &nbsp;<a href="http://ahawkandahacksaw.net/index.php?id=48">A Hawk and a Hacksaw (AHAAH).</a></p><p>Barnes and Trost, who have watched <em>Shadows</em> &ldquo;hundreds&rdquo; of times, first started performing along to Parajanov&rsquo;s film a few years ago, at both music (<a href="http://www.atpfestival.com/">All Tomorrow&rsquo;s Parties</a>) and film festivals. Trost said they were inspired by Parajanov&rsquo;s experimental approach.</p><p>&ldquo;Everytime I watch it, I almost always notice something new in the film,&rdquo; said Trost. &ldquo;He was totally ahead of his time as far as his craft goes as a filmmaker. It&rsquo;s just a joy to watch.&rdquo;</p><p>AHAAH, who are based in Albuquerque, N.M., are well known for their joyful and wide-ranging experimentation with music. They combine American pop and experimental credentials they earned while performing in Neutral Milk Hotel (Barnes) and Beirut (Trost), with a smorgasbord of folk sounds and instrumentation from countries as diverse as Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania.</p><p>In approaching <em>Shadows</em>, AHAAH didn&rsquo;t entirely redo the original soundtrack (by <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0804695/">Miroslav Skorik</a>). They left behind his orchestral music, but kept the traditional folk songs in the film. And while performing, they incorporate much of the film&rsquo;s &ldquo;soundscape,&rdquo; which Parajanov stuffed full of off- and on-screen sound: Sheep bleats and bells, people singing, small flutes and especially <a href="http://folklored.blogspot.com/2012/07/trembitas-hutsul-horn.html">trembitas</a>, long and loud Hutsul horns (which bear some resemblance to their alpine cousins and in the film function like prominent and repeated aural punctuation).</p><p>According to Trost, who only discovered the trembitas through the film, and didn&rsquo;t know much about Hutsul music before embarking on the soundtrack, some of their traditions are still actively practiced in the Carpathians, especially at Christmas.</p><p>&ldquo;Because of the mountain ranges the villages are isolated, so from village to village there are different songs and melodies. Hutsul will travel for miles and miles in the snow to go to different villages to sing Christmas carols &ndash; they still do this. It is pretty amazing, kind of like a last, living folk tradition.&rdquo;</p><p>Parajanov&rsquo;s artistic and political commitments have also proved inspiring to Barnes and Trost. Their work with the Shadows soundtrack is the basis of their new album <em>You Have Already Gone to the Other World</em>. Trost said both the story and soundtrack pushed them to try new experiments with &ldquo;effects and electricity.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>And, in addition to their regular accordion and violin, Trost plays a Hammond organ on &ldquo;Oh Lord, Saint George, Bewitch Ivan, Make Him Mine&rdquo; while Barnes, playing the santur (a Persian version of a dulcimer), unleashes a musical blizzard on &ldquo;Where No Horse Neighs and No Crow Flies.&rdquo; The trembitas are there too, in the thrilling opener to the album &ldquo;Open It, Rose.&rdquo; (For another use of <em>Shadows</em>&rsquo; &nbsp;trembitas check out <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyBXUwIPL4U">&ldquo;Wild Dances&rdquo; </a>by Ukrainian pop band Ruslana - they won Eurovision with this song in 2004!)</p><p>After performing live to the film multiple times, AHAAH also feels a certain kinship with <em>Shadows</em>. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like having a third member of band,&rdquo; said Trost. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve come to think of the film as this kind of person.&rdquo;</p><p>A Hawk and a Handsaw perform live to <em>Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors</em> Friday night, at the Chicago performance space <a href="http://www.constellation-chicago.com/event/273785-hawk-hacksaw-live-film-chicago/">Constellation</a>. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show gets underway at 9:30. The event is co-sponsored by The Nightingale Theater and the Chicago Underground Film Festival. And if you can&rsquo;t make the show, you can listen to AHAAH <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqjSqC8fFck">here </a>and watch <em>Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors</em> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GoXMSAMOyg">here.</a></p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-host of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a> a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 26 Jul 2013 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/hawk-and-hacksaw-gives-new-sound-1960s-soviet-era-film-108204 The cross-continental roots of American music http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/cross-continental-roots-american-music-105849 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/banjo%20flickr%20rubin.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Rubin)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F81406331&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.markdvorak.com/">Mark Dvorak</a> remembers the first time he saw a banjo. He was a child, maybe seven or eight years old, visiting a historical reenactment park with his family &ndash; the kind of place where they have log cabins and a mule farm &ndash; and he came across an old man strumming the classic five-stringed American instrument.</p><p>&ldquo;This guy seemed ancient to me. He&rsquo;s sitting there playing this thing &ndash; I&rsquo;d never seen anything like it,&rdquo; Dvorak recalled. &ldquo;He called it an &lsquo;old fashioned boom box.&rsquo; He told me that when he grew up he didn&rsquo;t have electricity and so forth, so if he and his friends wanted to make music had to do it themselves.&rdquo;</p><p>Dvorak channeled that ethos of communal music-making as he grew up, and now the multi-instrumentalist &ndash; who WFMT once called &ldquo;Chicago&rsquo;s official troubadour&rdquo; &ndash; can be found doing regular gigs around the region and teaching at the Old Town School of Folk Music. He&rsquo;s also developed a strong interest in the history of American folk music and instruments, especially when it comes to the old Appalachian mountain tunes common to the banjo.</p><p>&ldquo;Historians pretty much agree that the banjo was brought over by Africans during the slave years,&rdquo; Dvorak said. &ldquo;Of course the banjos Africans were able to make were made from hollowed out gourds and animal skins.&rdquo;</p><p>Then, Dvorak said, the common historical understanding is that an Irishman living in Virginia named Joe Sweeny adapted those early African instruments into what we would recognize as the banjo today.</p><p>Those duel African and Scotch/Irish influences are also present in much of early American folk music, according to Dvorak. In the audio above, he demonstrates the cross-continental currents of early American music by deconstructing the lineage of one particularly well-known song: &ldquo;You get a line, I&rsquo;ll get a pole&rdquo; &ndash; also known as the crawdad song. His aural breakdown is both fascinating and tuneful.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</a></em>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Mark Dvorak spoke at an event presented by the Illinois Humanities Council in April of 2006. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/banjo-all-american-instrument">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 02 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/cross-continental-roots-american-music-105849 Global Notes: Remembering Facundo Cabral http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/global-notes-remembering-facundo-cabral-89411 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/obit-facundo-cabraljpg-a5cb78257442749d.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Facundo Cabral, the legendary populist Argentinean singer, was killed July 9 while on tour in Guatemala. He and his concert promoter were on the way to the airport when two vehicles opened fire on their car, bringing a shocking end to one of the most unique journeys in Latin American music. First, we'll hear two Chicagoans from Argentina, Claudia Freed and Marta Farion, reflect on Cabral's legacy. Then, Jerome and <em>Radio M </em>host Tony Sarabia talk with <a href="http://www.elbiobarilari.com/" target="_blank">Elbio Barilari</a>, a composer and professor of Latin Music Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago, about Cabral’s career and legacy in folk music.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>In the live radio version of this segment, it was erroneously stated that Facundo Cabral's promoter was also killed. The mistake is corrected in this online version.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Track List</strong></p><p>1. No Soy de Aqui, Ni Soy de Alla</p><p>2. Manhatan Nocturno</p><p>3. Entre Pobres</p><p>4. Este es un Nuevo Día</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Watch a live performance of Facundo Cabral's "No Soy de Aqui, Ni Soy de Alla"</strong></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/xD3G6eM3tPI" frameborder="0" height="349" width="425"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 20 Jul 2011 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/global-notes-remembering-facundo-cabral-89411